Pro-life? More like pro-birth and not caring what comes after

May 25, 2017 — by Harshini Ramaswamy

President Donald Trump hadn’t even been in office for one day when the largest single-day protest in American history took place on Jan. 21.

Although the worldwide protest was named the Women’s March, it spanned several topics that Trump has neglected or disrespected. These hotly debated issues included immigration reform, healthcare reform, racial equality, freedom of religion, workers’ rights, environmental protection and LGBTQ rights

However, organizers of the march, which included Planned Parenthood, did not allow pro-life groups to join the March. To critics, this controversial decision seemed to resonate with today’s perceived definition of feminism: one that places a large burden on reproductive rights and does not account for the several components of equal rights for women, such as equal pay and universal education.

Yet pro-lifers fail to recognize that they are in fact “pro-birth”; they support the birthing of children but fail to take in count what comes after birth. They knowingly or unknowingly support platforms that cut reproductive and family planning services, which actually encourages unprepared mothers to give birth.  

When it comes to equal rights, everything narrows down to choice. Women want equal opportunities and equal chance to choose what their futures to look like. Yes, pro-birthers may have a legitimate case that unborn women could have rights too, but ultimately, their platform supports policies that cut the funding that will help these unborn women grow into healthy adults with a support system, thus suppressing this choice for women.

In his first 100 days Trump reinstated the “global gag rule,” otherwise known as the “Mexico City Policy”, which cuts off all U.S. funding to international nongovernmental organizations that “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations,” according to the New Yorker. While pro-lifers may have celebrated this victory, this policy will have unintended global consequences that will be a detriment to women everywhere, especially in developing countries.

The loss of funding to clinics that offer abortions as one of their many services, such as health care, birth control and cancer screenings will have effects that go beyond this pro-choice and pro-life debate.

Policies that restrict funding to family planning services have shown to increase unplanned pregnancies, which in turn increases unsafe abortions and maternal death. A 2011 study by the World Health organization concluded that women were 2.73 times more likely to have an abortion under these policies.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, the United States — through its Agency for International Development (USAID) — has been a global leader in enhancing women’s access to contraceptive services in the world’s poorest countries for more than 45 years.

Eliminating U.S. assistance for international family planning and reproductive health programs would result in 433,000 fewer women and couples to receive contraceptive services and supplies; 128,000 more unintended pregnancies, including 57,000 more unplanned births, to occur; 55,000 more abortions to take place (the majority of which are provided in unsafe conditions) and 250 more maternal deaths to occur.

Different opinions are the basis of democracy, and everyone should respect that there are legitimate and personal reasons for different situations. But don’t pretend to “protect” women if the your platform rallies for the exact opposite.

A common argument against pro-choice is that they discourage women from starting families because of the perception that a family “weighs down” a woman’s potential from being reached. But to those who tout this statement, this is too simplistic of a claim and does not address every situation that can occur or the complications that can arise. Sometimes this option to abort an unborn child needs to be taken, so it should be set as an alternate path that everyone has the choice to take.  

To pro-birthers: If you are truly a feminist, you believe women should have the opportunity, the choice, the right to decide things for themselves. You do not get to pick and choose when you advocate for human rights. You do not get to pick and choose being a feminist. You either believe in this or you don’t.